Liberals promise status quo on fracking moratorium

Liberals promise to extend fracking moratorium at event at the Turtle Creek watershed, which supplies Greater Moncton's drinking water.

PC leader says he would allow communities to decide whether to allow fracking

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant promises to maintain a moratorium on fracking if re-elected. (Shane Magee/CBC)

New Brunswick's Liberal leader says the party will maintain the status quo on hydraulic fracturing if re-elected next month.

Brian Gallant stood beside Greater Moncton's drinking water supply Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement. The watershed supplies the drinking water for Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview.

Gallant suggested Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs would open the area to fracking.

It's something Higgs called "an outright lie."

Higgs said the PCs would allow communities to decide whether to allow fracking after local consultations.

PC leader Blaine Higgs, left, speaks with party supporters at a recent nomination meeting in Bertrand. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

David Coon, the Green Party leader, said the province should simply prohibit fracking.

He pointed to severe floods, fires and other events this year that have been linked to a changing global climate as reasons to end further development of fossil fuel sources. 

Coon said the Green Party would ensure no new fossil fuel development occurred and would shift the province toward renewable energy sources. He said the party's platform outlining its plan will be released Monday.

"That we owe to our children and their children," Coon said.

Fracking an issue in 2014 

The provincial election official starts Thursday, but the announcement revives a debate that dominated the last election in 2014.

That campaign saw the Liberals and PCs take opposite approaches to shale gas development. While the Liberals promised a moratorium, the PCs launched their re-election bid in front of a Corridor Resources natural gas well in Penobsquis.

Fracking protesters in Sackville in 2013. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

The Liberals imposed a moratorium on the shale gas industry shortly after winning the election.

The decision capped several years of protests across the province over concerns about the environmental impact of fracking.

The practice involves sending sand, water and chemicals underground at high pressure to break up rock formations and release natural gas.

Before the moratorium, Corridor Resources fracked wells at its McCully Field site, near Sussex, for more than 10 years. (Corridor Resources)

Higgs said he's not looking to fight this election on that topic.

"There's no comparison here," Higgs said of 2014. "I'm not for a moment suggesting we're going to open shale gas development across the province. I'm asking communities to consider developing and where they want to, we'll work with them to do that."

He said the party would use existing fracking rules but would also want to protect homeowners by ensuring money is set aside during development to deal with any problems that arise.

5 conditions

Gallant reiterated Tuesday that the party would only lift the moratorium if five conditions were met.

They include a "social licence" to use the method, credible information about its impacts on health, the environment and water, a plan to address fracking wastewater disposal, respecting the duty to consult with First Nations, and "a proper royalty structure."

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.